Venus, Mars and Neptune, with a little Zeus for good measure…

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Thunderbolts are go!

Today I would like to look in some detail at the various dynamics of the relating planets – Venus and Mars – in their applications to Neptune. Whilst not nearly as abrasively uncomfortable as Venus and Mars to Pluto connections, this blend does create its own unique difficulty and with understanding, there is certainly enormous potential for progress.

I could of course talk in the abstract about these energies, but it would be better in my view to use the example of Venus Williams, the American tennis sensation who has won, with her sister, every major title and honour in the sport. Let us begin by looking at her chart for reference:

Venus Williams: 17 June 1980, 14:12 (+7:00) Lynwood CA, USA

Of course, what can be seen right away is the enormous number of correlations to her sister Serena: here are just a few:

  • Vesta (at one level, the sister) is on the Aries Point, thus public projection and prominence are the result in relation to the female sibling.
  • The only real connection that Vesta makes though – at a subjective level – is its conjunction to Sun, thus the father is the common ground, and pretty much the only common ground.
  • The asteroid Isis (42) is exactly conjunct the Midheaven: a career configured with a sibling, (Isis also relates to sibling relationships), and with the sign Cancer there is tenacity and loyalty here, but crucially, the conjunction is squared by Icarus (1566), and this is a square from Isis to Icarus of only 7 minutes of arc, so there is astonishing adrenaline-producing tension between them; a big part of her drive to the top is based upon her need to beat her sister, to be faster, better, in Icarus’ terms, to fly higher!
  • Mercury is at the apex of a tee-square from Pluto opposition Pallas. If we take Mercury to signify sibling relationships, what we have here is in fact sibling rivalry, Pallas speaks of behaviours and strategies that are developed to please others, and learned (most especially in a female nativity) through the daughter role; thus pleasing father is the key. Imagine how that feels when opposed by Pluto; it’s not going to be comfortable; there’s a real desperate, gun-to-the-head quality at work here, must be what father wants, and that tension gets channelled into Mercury, into the sibling dynamic. Note how Pluto is ruled by Venus and Pallas by Mars, and these planets are square to each other and both in hard aspect to Neptune, there’s essentially a competition here based on a need to be more attractive than the sibling, to be more lovable, to be preferable to father. This is echoed by a conjunction of the asteroid Lilith (1181) to Pluto, selection or favouritism, being the chosen one is a life or death issue.

The ultimate sibling rivalry, Venus as runner-up...

Now let’s consider, in this context, the tee-square of Mars, Venus and Neptune. Mars is the focus of the tee-square from Venus opposition Neptune and is therefore squared by both and importantly ruled by Mercury, echoing the key motivator in the pattern, being more attractive to father than the sibling. Confusing messages about sexuality would have begun here, love would have begun to unravel as a concept, and very early on this would have been a feature of the family dynamic. All the groundwork for later psychological imprints is done between the ages of 3 and 5 when the hard aspects of Mars to Venus/Neptune and Pluto to Pallas are perfected by Solar Arc, these early childhood years are formative in terms of the sibling dynamic and an awareness of what it means to compete for and win father’s attention begins to make itself felt. In any case, Neptune configured with the Venus-Mars square is profoundly significant, and this is the timing that we can isolate through Solar Arc measurement. We can project these timings forward and look for applications to angles to determine major transition points in relation to these early dynamics. We note the following:

Lifetime Solar Arc directions to As/Mc

1999 was Venus’ breakthrough year, and it marked a period when both herself and her sister Serena were in the zenith of their sport, Venus was ranked in the world’s top 3 for the first time and she faced her sister in a major final for the first time too. The sibling rivalry dynamic was lit up by the Sun’s presence at the zenith of the chart, and with Sun in Gemini, ruling Mercury therefore, it was inevitable that her sister would be configured.

Moving ahead to 2003, the Venusian quality is illuminated by the Arc to the Midheaven. The date here is 5th August and exactly 40 days later, her sister Yetunde Price was murdered by mistake (Venus is opposed to Neptune) in a drug-related drive-by shooting (squared to Mars which is profoundly conjunct Zeus, which rules firearms) near the tennis courts where the sisters used to practise when younger. Note too that Yetunde was a half-sister, and half-siblings are very often a feature of hard Mercury-Pluto contacts. 2004 was inevitably a hard year, Venus lost much of her previous form and struggled to make her usual impact in part because of a persistent abdominal injury which first troubled her at the time of her sister’s shooting. Note then that Mars (violence) conjunct Zeus (firearms) falls at 17 Virgo, the degree that corresponds to the abdominal muscles.

What we glean from the general tone and dynamic of the nativity is that this tee-square is profoundly powerful, most especially when it is activated by Solar Arc in this way. Let us try to understand the energy at work here, because these planetary relationships do manifest in very specific ways. When we understand and recognise these patterns we begin to be released from their unconscious directives.

The theory of tee-squares is very simple. The opposition creates a pattern of dissatisfaction, inability to find peace because of contrary drives, and the tension this creates is expressed through the apex planet; it fuels the apex point, and in the nature of the square aspect is a tense, driven, challenging and experientially uncomfortable force; it is the channel through which the internal tension is cathartised. Thus, when we understand the opposition, we can begin to speculate as to the motive force behind the external expression of drive.

So, Venus opposition Neptune. We can tell right away that there is a problem balancing (opposition) the themes of love (Venus) and reality (Neptune); in a nutshell it describes a condition whereby the experience of love never quite matches up to the ideal. There is a longing and a yearning – at a very deep level – for perfect romantic union, and the usual pattern for the individual with this aspect is to fall in love very quickly, and for a time everything is perfect, wonderful, a transport of the most exalted kind; the new partner is delightful in every way, it is a rapture, a deep and rapturous soul-union and all is well with the world. Neptune creates enormously high expectations, indeed, it creates impossible expectations, and this is the mechanism by which the innate spirituality of the planet is awakened, regardless of what planets it contacts. The expectations of impersonal Neptune are designed to be so perfect that they have to be beyond the reach of any mere mortal being, so the inevitable conclusion is disappointment (another profoundly Neptunian theme), and with time and repeated episodes of disillusionment in relation to the contacting archetype (in this case Venus, thus romantic disappointment), the transcending process is awakened. The soul learns that no other human can fulfill the dreamy expectations of Neptune, so the love nature begins to focus on transcendent objects of love, the divine, the spiritual, a love of humanity; impersonal love is awakened, the soul begins to focus on spiritual rather than personal desires and themes. Neptune uses divine discontent to fuel the journey toward transcendence.

Mundanely, the pattern is nearly always identical; I call this the ‘One Who Got Away’ Syndrome. Usually, there was a figure from the past with whom the individual didn’t quite consummate a relationship. There may have been a brief fling, or even no fling at all, just a desire for one, but crucially, the relationship never progressed beyond the first rapturous days and weeks of divine contentment. The relationship may have lasted long enough to have been in some way meaningful, but never so long for the mundane and unpleasant realities to impinge upon Neptune’s awareness. The personal hygiene issues and tendency to be a real grump on Monday mornings never quite registered, so the relationship still holds the promise of perfection, even after it is over. Often the reason that the relationship ended is considered to be in some way tragic, as befits Neptune, perhaps they were forced apart by external circumstances and loss and sorrow are bound up in the story, but crucially, it is important to recognise that had the relationship managed to progress, then it would inevitably have fallen into the disappointment trap: because that is what Neptune does.

Now we should consider in this exact context the fact that Mars also squares Neptune. You can put this together yourself, because as the other major component of relationship, Mars concerns itself with sexual (as opposed to romantic) love and this then is also pushed to be the focus of the Neptunian disappointment trap. Typically, Mars – Neptune has very vivid sexual fantasizes that – again – cannot be satisfied by mundane reality and so sex becomes a disappointment too. The wish is to be transported into a state of sexual Nirvana, but it cannot happen, the woman with this aspect especially tends to project it onto the man in her life, his sexual performance doesn’t therefore match up: it is always disappointing. The man is of course perfectly aware of this (albeit at an unconscious level) and this is why he often takes refuge from the self-doubt that is engendered by the projection in Neptunian themes, alcohol, drugs, pornography and illicit affairs. Deception becomes a key component of the projected dynamic. It is astoundingly common for Mars – Neptune women to discover that their husband has been having an affair behind their back, often for many years! The dynamic is quite compelling, knowing (deep-down) that he can never satisfy his wife’s sexual needs, he protects himself from emasculation and ego-collapse by finding somebody whose sexual needs he can satisfy. He is not ostensibly being unfaithful even, or at least that was never his objective, it is invariably an act of self-defence (although understandably it is extremely difficult for the deceived partner to see it this way).

Finally, Venus squares Mars, and here there is no transcendent conundrum, this is simply an inability to reconcile love and sex, the two feel uncomfortable because there is a competition dynamic at play where love is concerned. Love (Venus) becomes confused with winning (Mars), indeed, all Venusian themes are given dynamic tension through the competitive, physical, go-getting drive of Mars. This dynamic again plays out in Venus Williams’ nativity: with Venus in Gemini (siblings), there is a competitive edge to the need to be loved. Competing for love, might be the watchword of this aspect, and remember that this square rule the Pallas-Pluto/Lilith opposition, which says “if I’m not father’s favourite, then I’ll die”. It was her father who pushed the sister’s to become tennis players and his ruthless determination that they be the best that has provided much of the energy for their astonishing rise to prominence.

There is so much more of interest here (if I had the time I’d write it all out), but suffice to say:

  • Consider how the tee-square expresses. Mars is in Virgo, so power is combined with precision. Ed Moses had Cazimi Venus conjunct Mars in Virgo, perfect precision of movement, economy of movement, here force is applied with skill.
  • Then Mars is in an absolutely partile conjunction (10 minutes!) with Zeus, the Transneptunian associated with firearms and sports! (Archie Griffin has a Cazimi Zeus!) Zeus threw thunderbolts right? Venus Williams has the fastest serve in women’s tennis:

    [From Wikipedia] She holds the record for the fastest serve struck by a woman in a main draw event. At the Zurich Open, she recorded 130 mph (210 km/h). She also holds the record for fastest serve in all four Grand Slam tournaments: 2003 Australian Open quarterfinal – 125 mph (201 km/h), 2007 French Open second round, 2008 Wimbledon final, 2007 US Open first round – 129 mph.At Wimbledon in 2008, her average first serve speed was 115 mph (185 km/h) in the quarterfinal, 116 mph (187 km/h) in the semifinal, and 111 mph (179 km/h) in the final. She also had a higher average serving speed than then World No.1 Roger Federer as well as eventual men’s champion Rafael Nadal.

  • Mars is at the halfsum of Uranus and the Midheaven, so unusual authority, career individuation is realised through precision and power (and throwing thunderbolts).
  • Venus’ boyfriend Hank Kuehne has (wait for it) Zeus conjunct Sun, with Sun at 18° of Virgo, mere minutes from Venus’ Mars/Zeus conjunction. It’s impossible without knowing his birth time to say how exact this might be, certainly it’s within a few minutes at most. That’s one relationship that was certainly written in the stars!

That’s plenty for this article, please bear in mind that I can apply this same insight (and much greater detail) to your own nativity, so please check Astrology Hour if you would like more information.

Hank Kuehne

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Tales from the Peregrine Moon: The Isolation of Nick Drake

Nick DrakeThose persons who tell you that the study of astrology requires an exhaustive understanding of every imaginable facet of cosmic knowledge are really telling only half the story. My own approach was once similarly flavoured, but then I noticed a peculiar phenomenon; I just felt the astrology. I began to get a strange sensation of empathic quality from looking at a nativity; often the sensation is faint, sometimes there is no sensation at all, but on occasion I can open up a chart and I am nearly moved to tears at some apprehension of the most delicate anxiety and angst before my brain has even had the remotest possibility of processing the actual astrology; I have come to the point whereby then, I do not read the astrology as a series of factors, like lines of computer code, but in fact I read the astrology as a glyph. Of course, as an afterthought, I can break it down to understand how that sense came about, but it is uncanny that even after reverse-engineering the delineations in this way, the conclusion is just the same. I am equally sensitive to the charts of murderers in this manner, Myra Hindley’s chart filled me with a sense of abysmal blackness so that I could not even look at it for more than a few moments.

I find those cases where the astrology is urgent in this way far more compelling, in fact, I understand how much a client requires help from exactly this phenomenon. It goes without saying then, that I am intrigued in my own astrology by whatever quality therein might offer a clue to the nature of this faculty. Now technically I consider the fact of my peregrine Mercury in mutual reception with Pluto below rising to be a possibility, but even more than this, I consider my Moon, also peregrine at the Eagle Point of Scorpio to be a good candidate.

Peregrine Moon in Scorpio is extremely uncommon in the literature, the actor Will Smith is one of the very rare individuals who has managed to express it at all. This rather cuts to the chase with the theme of peregrination, because actually there is an isolation, and with the Moon that can be very tricky, because you are emotionally cut off; you do not feel part of the world, you feel disconnected, separate and depending on the nature of the Moon sign, that might have some very difficult repercussions. Peregrine Moon in Scorpio is so rare in the charts of celebrities because their emotional security has no connection with anything else, they are thus forced to be emotionally self-sufficient, and in the sign of Scorpio: the most self-reliant and Spartan of all the zodiac, it becomes a life-and-death struggle against a sense of profound abandonment. If the Moon is peregrine in the sign of Cancer or Taurus, there may be clinginess or a tendency to eat for comfort and oscillate between that (and via the polarity) to be emotionally distant and to go off your food at times as well, but at least in these lunar-compatible signs, there is a real possibility of finding a sense of inner security. You may dissociate, but at least you can feel secure in your separateness. The native then with peregrine Moon in Taurus or in Cancer will give lie to the homily “no man is an island” because they are probably capable of being so.

Moon in Scorpio and peregrine then creates profound isolation too, but one that is deeply uncomfortable to the one experiencing it. This is key, because where Moon in the opposite sign of Taurus dissociates because he just feels so good about being “in his own world” because it is so comfortable a place to reside, in the Eagle sign it is akin to the eagle’s domain, lofty, distant and very, very lonely. The key to this position then is that the native can feel very different, very alone and very un-nurtured.

The text-book case is – in my view – that of the musician Nick Drake. His profound sensitivity of expression tells the story of the deeply private compassion of Moon in Scorpio, and his voice is the perfect delineation of the fragile, difficult quality of Neptune squared to Mercury conjunct Venus in the sad, hurting 12th. I looked at Drake’s chart this morning and felt a profound wave of sorrow wash through me, and I do not need to tell you that I listen to Nick Drake’s music all the time and it always has this effect on me. Of course, esoterically, his music is an expression of his astrology, which is itself an emanation of his soul, what Alan Watts so aptly described as an aperture through which the Universe shines.

There is no question though that the peregrine Moon in Scorpio aperture is profoundly difficult. Let us place that into the context of the whole of Drake’s chart:

Nick Drake Nativity

Even the minor aspects that Drake’s moon makes are not the easiest, the quincunxes to Sun/Uranus speak to an ever present dissatisfaction about expressing his feelings, and the quindecile to North Node implies an obsession with finding his destined vocation. The tee-square to “old hard-labour” Saturn – Pluto in Leo tells us that he was born to serve his sentence in this life in the creative sphere. In the second that creates a real need for warmth and prosperity, but Moon in Scorpio overrides everything, creating an intense sense of isolation.

Let us consider a few of the astonishing facets of this over-expressed Scorpio Moon in his life:

  • He lived a frugal existence, his only source of income being a £20 a week retainer he received from Island Records. At one point he was so poor he was unable to afford to buy a new pair of shoes.
  • He would often disappear for days, sometimes turning up unannounced at friends’ houses, uncommunicative and withdrawn. Robert Kirby described a typical visit: “He would arrive and not talk, sit down, listen to music, have a smoke, have a drink, sleep there the night, and two or three days later he wasn’t there, he’d gone. And three months later he’d be back.”
  • Drake ended his studies at Cambridge just nine months before graduation, and in autumn 1969 moved to London to concentrate on a career in music. His father remembered “writing him long letters, pointing out the disadvantages of going away from Cambridge…a degree was a safety net, if you manage to get a degree, at least you have something to fall back on; his reply to that was that a safety net was the one thing he did not want.”
  • By the winter of 1970, he had isolated himself in London. Disappointed by the reaction to Bryter Layter, he turned his thoughts inwards, and withdrew from family and friends. He rarely left his flat, and then only to play an occasional concert or to buy drugs.
  • Upon completion of his third album (Pink Moon), Drake delivered the master tapes to the front desk of Island Records’ office building. He placed them on a receptionist’s desk, and left without speaking to anyone.
  • In the only Drake interview ever published, the “shy and introverted folk singer” spoke of his dislike of live appearances, and very little else. “There wasn’t any connection whatsoever“, the interviewer said. “I don’t think he made eye contact with me once.”
  • In his 2006 autobiography, Drake’s producer recalled being taken aback at Drake’s anger and bitterness: ” I had told him he was a genius, and others had concurred. Why wasn’t he famous and rich. This rage must have festered beneath that inexpressive exterior for years.”
  • Throughout his body of work, Drake writes with detachment, more as an observer than participant, a point of view described by Rolling Stone “as if he were viewing his life from a great, unbridgeable distance.”

This perceived inability to connect has led to much speculation about Drake’s sexuality. Joe Boyd (Drakes’ and Fairport Convention’s producer) has said he detects a virginal quality in his lyrics and music, and notes that he never observed or heard of the singer behaving in a sexual way with anyone, male or female. Shall we point out then Drake’s peregrine (disconnected) Mars (sexuality) in the sign of Virgo (the virgin)?

I really fail to understand just why astrology isn’t taken so much more seriously than it is!

Nick Drake died aged just 26 of an overdose after having failed to connect with his life.